Monday, May 12, 2008

No 'poo update

So I'm about two weeks into this no 'poo thing (read more on the no_poo thread at live journal), having not used any shampoo and only conditioner once (okay, I mixed a tiny bit of watered-down shampoo into it). I decided to give the baking soda/vinegar combo another try this weekend.

I first put a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and water in my hair, because on the no 'poo website a lot of people said to do this if you have hard water. On babyslime's site she has a link to a water hardness map, as well as the USGS site explaining more about hard water. The map showed that SoCal has some of the hardest water in the country!

This was a big change from my native Bay Area, which has some of the softest water. No wonder my hair feels like straw!

Anyway, on the no 'poo site they said baking soda + hard water = soap scum. Lovely. (In fact, hard water is the reason why shampoo was invented, since it cleans similarly in hard or soft water.) Last time when I tried using baking soda (BS) my hair got all funky, now I know why. So I rinsed with the WV solution first, then used the recommended 1 tbs BS / 1 cup water on my scalp, and finished with a 1 tbs apple cider vinegar/1 cup water.

My hair came out better than when I hadn't used the WV before, and I could definitely tell that the BS cleaned my hair this time (last time I only used a tiny bit). In fact, it actually dried my hair out a lot, to the point where I would have to put something else on it to keep it from looking like straw, which kind of goes against what I'm trying to do. I can put a tiny bit of olive oil on it, but most people recommend coconut oil. When I run out of my other products I'll get some of that.

I have to admit, it's a bit of a hassle to use all that stuff, and takes a lot of time and water with all the rinsing etc. That's not what I want to deal with when showering at 4:00 AM. I figure I can use the BS if my hair feels extra nasty or something, like once a week maybe. It's nice to know at least that it works.

For now, I think I'll stick to the conditioner-only routine; Suave has a Naturals line that many "no-pooers" recommend, since it doesn't have silicones (more on that below). And it's nice and cheap, an added bonus! I got some on sale at Rite Aid this weekend for 99 cents; it's usually $1.29 so even at full price it won't break the bank.

I got the Ocean Breeze kind because I like the scent, but a lot of no 'pooers like the Coconut. I'll have to check and see if it has coconut oil in it...

As for silicones (those dreaded 'cones!) many people on the no_poo site refer to them in such a way that you'd think they are deadly. Basically, though, they create a waxy buildup on hair that you would need to wash off with shampoo, hence why many no-pooers don't like them. A quote I thought summed it up nicely (from constant state of flux): "Here though, the haircare industry wins hands down; selling shampoo that manages to strip the cones away each time you wash, only to sell you more conditioner that applies them again afterwards. A never ending circle of seal and strip, seal and strip, that builds up and up, where the only winners are Proctel and Gamble and other haircare manufacturers."

The thing that concerns me most about 'cones is that they also strip your hair of color. Since I color my hair, I'll be trying to avoid them from now on. Here's a thread where you can read more about 'cones.

The big test in all this will be on Wednesday. I'm going to the salon to get my hair colored and I'm really interested to see what my stylist thinks of my experiment. I want to see if she notices a difference (good or bad) and what she knows about the chemistry of it all, etc. I'll post my update here after I see her tomorrow.

The whole point in doing this (other than trying to make my hair more naturally healthy), is to save money. I had stocked up on shampoo and conditioner when I saw Salon Selectives and Tresemmé on sale, so now I have a bunch of product I'm not going to use. Not very cost effective. But after reading the backs of the bottles (and more on the no 'poo site), I found that all "cleaners" have the same basic ingredients for cleaning, namely SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate). It's a detergent that is used in everything from soap to toothpaste, (as well as car washes and garage floor cleaners) and is responsible for the lathery bubbles. (You can read more about the issues with SLS here and here.)

Since we have four sinks in our house and encourage the boys to wash their hands often, we have quite a few liquid-soap dispensers. I can just fill those up with shampoo when they start running low. Also, I can use the conditioner for shaving cream, or give it to the rest of the house's inhabitants when theirs' run out. They don't care what kind of shampoo/conditioner/body wash, etc. they use, and they hardly use any, so I don't have to buy them any hair care products for probably two more years. So far so good!

**Update to the Update :)**

Yesterday I went to my stylist to have my hair colored. I told her about my "experiment," and while she hadn't heard of the movement (probably some of the reason is because I live in SoCal and it's all about image and buying the latest and greatest of everything) she was very interested. She told me that they use BS in the salon on clients with lots of product buildup and she says she remembers way back when they used vinegar to soften, etc.

The reason I even brought it up (other than wanting her opinion) was because she would obviously have to rinse out my color, and usually shampoos and conditions. I brought out my Suave Naturals bottle and she didn't bat an eyelash. In fact, after we had finished, she said, "Your hair looks so shiny!" She also said I didn't even need to trim it, as the ends look fine. She even said to keep her posted on my progress, and she might even recommend it to her clients with really damaged hair! I thought this was really progressive, as many stylists often push expensive products on their clients. Yea for her wanting to spread the word!

Just FYI, here are some pics I took yesterday of my hair. You'll notice that I have some frizzies/ends that aren't smoothed down bc I'm sure it's still adjusting to no 'cones, and I didn't put anything in it yet (like oil, etc.) to smooth it down. But all in all, not too shabby! Yea no 'poo!


Michelle said...

I have been No 'Poo for a month now! My mom told me about it, and I was mostly inspired by lifelessplastic.

I went hardcore, no shampoo cold turkey, do a couple vinegar rinses a week, and have done baking soda three times this whole month. I also use conditioner a couple times a week. So far, so good, I think!

Anonymous said...

Howdy!! I followed you from your comment on my blog - thank you :-) Your "no 'poo" tag caught my eye. I have very naturally curly hair and the no 'poo routine is nearly sacred to the lot of us. We do a thing called "co wash" which is washing your hair with conditioner. I've been 'poo free since early September. I know more about dimethecone, protiens, amino acids, etc. than I ever thought. is a great site for no 'poo advice :-) Your hair is beautiful by the way!

Heather said...

Thank you cheri-beri! Currently, I do a "co wash" as well, as the baking soda/vinegar routine doesn't leave my hair as soft as I'd like, and it leaves me with too many fly-aways. I will definitely come to you when I need advice/info on proteins, 'cones, and the like :)